"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown

"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Little By Little

"As much as you want it to be, your house is not going to be put together in one day. Your office isn't going to be organized in one day. All the sheets and towels aren't going to be washed in one day. You will get it done. Make your list. Start checking things off."
This is C and I's fourth duty station in less than six years. 

It is strange to think that we should be in one place for three years. That for three years, his boots will be on American soil. For three years he won't be gone in the middle of the night, he won't be getting home after seven in the evening (or much later) every single night. It is strange to think that we can plan a date for the weekend and not have to worry about an interrupting phone call or text or email. 

For three years, my husband should sleep beside me every night. 

I don't know how to explain the emotions that play into that. I don't know how to put any of it into words. 

C told me tonight he doesn't know how to do anything but what he has always done. He doesn't know how to not go, how to not be on twenty-four-seven, three-sixty-five. He doesn't know how to be anything but the type of soldier he has always been.

I am grateful. Please don't misunderstand or confuse or think for a moment I am not deeply, completely, knee-bendingly grateful that my husband will be home, that he will be able to go to baseball games with his boys, and take them to school, and eat dinner - the four of us, around the same table, at the same time - we've never been able to bank on any of those things. 

Not ever. 

It is so much to process.


I know that to those outside of this life - and maybe even to some in it - none of that makes any sense. The statement above may seem that I don't want this. My God, my God, I want all of those things. I am overwhelmed with the idea that C gets three years to be active and involved in his children's lives, to get to be physically present in our marriage. I am so grateful.

I dated C through a deployment. I have watched him hold fast while the mother of his fallen friend gripped his arm in absolute agony and sorrow while he escorted her to her son's memorial. I have stood steps away while he knocked on the door of a comrade's wife, letting her know of his injuries. He has seen horrors and lived through unmentionable circumstances. I have watched his children sprint to him. I have held our toddler while he screamed and cried himself to sleep because he missed his daddy for too long. I have gripped his neck, clung to his uniform, because he made it home
He made it home to me. 
We have built a marriage in what most people would not be able to survive. Our kiddos have known a father who despite his physical absence has left them always with a love that they remember and cherish and have grown in. We have given our everything for a life we deeply, heartfully believe in. That we honor and respect and have been humbled to share in.

We have given all we are to build and sustain a strong marriage in spite of every struggle that exists in this life. Our kids know they are loved. We did it in spite of separation and fear and heartbreak and hardship. 

It is all we have known. This is all we have known.

It is strange to know that friends of mine are undergoing that most difficult "see you soon" this week, or did last week, or will the next. I just can't not feel the guilt in the gratitude.

This house will not be put together in one day. Boxes will sit unopened. Towels will wait to be organized by color. For a time I will try to ignore that they are mixed and scattered and unorganized. My closet can be put on hold for a time.  

I will not learn how to not be a combat soldier's spouse in one day. C may never learn how to "not be" an Infantryman. He will not learn how to not do what he has always done, in just one day. Little by little this house will become our home. Little by little we will learn this new path. Little by little we will take it all in, we'll process the changes. We'll take the steps together.

Little by little.

How incredible the journey awaiting us. How grateful for the gift of time. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Military Spouse of the Year

I don't do well with any type of award or nomination. I get embarrassed and uncomfortable and usually look at my toes. 

A friend and fellow hard-working volunteer nominated me for Military Spouse of the Year. 

I feel strange even posting this.

If you would like to vote you can click here.

I am honored every day just to stand among these ladies and to share in this life with so many of you. I am humbled to be nominated for such an incredible award.

In all things, do good

Friday, January 18, 2013

To Do Unto Others

There are certain parts of who I am that I know are weaknesses and strengths at the very same time. I know that my love for people – for getting to really know people – is something I get from my mother. I know it is a strength. I know learning from people and learning about people and seeing how different personalities work together brings me joy and fulfillment and hope. I also know that this very love for people leads me to always believe the best in another, to always try to do right by those around me, to always assume that each person is fundamentally good. 

That opens me up for a world of hurt.

Not everyone has good intentions. Not everyone thinks for themselves. Not everyone understands or cares to find out the truth before they speak. Not everyone will see the world – or the situations in the day to day of it – the way that each of us does.

There is a very fine line between keeping grace and defending everything you are – everything you believe. A line so thin that it physically hurts to hang onto it – to not cross it. It makes me ill to see and hear ignorance and hatred and unjustified disdain.

Every part of me wants to call out every untruth that has been said, wants to offer fact to cancel out fiction, wants to explain that their source of information is so wrong that they need to see things with their own eyes, and to remember the kindness done to them.

I don’t believe a person should call out the acts they do for others. I don’t believe goodness shared is something to be boasted of or told about. I believe people should do good because we as children of God are made to do good. That when a friend or a neighbor or an acquaintance or a stranger is in need you give what you can, you do what you can, you offer what you can.

When a fellow army wife is sick while her spouse is away, you bring a bag of groceries, then you make another trip and bring pedialite for the kiddos who have caught the bug too. When a friend is in labor while her husband is deployed and she asks you to stay, you stay. When someone’s washer and dryer is out-of-commission, you open your home and wash their clothes. When a friend has surgery and is stuck in bed (and shares the same "addiction"), you deliver Starbucks. When a fellow spouse has a new baby, you make a muffin basket and cook up a meal. When someone is having a hard time, you tell them they can do this, that they are made for this, that there is no room for doubt. That they are strong enough to make it through, that they have to believe in grace. We give what we are able simply because we are called to give.

I believe that when it is needed, you go the extra mile. When someone is hurting, you offer comfort. When people work hard and give much that you thank them and acknowledge them and recognize that their choice to do good positively affects the whole.

I believe that the choices you make – that when you choose to look at the whole picture, at the entire person, at the entire family – when you choose to do good by them, to do better by them – that the correct choice to keep that quiet can be hard when it is something they will never know. When it is something that they can never understand. When it is something that when they speak ill out of ignorance you want to shake them and tell them. When the choice to do good by a family, who does not understand, will remain something between you and your Maker … that is a time for grace.

The logical part of me knows that people do hateful things for little reason. That one person whispering in the ear of another can distort what they have known for themselves. That people will twist and misconstrue and make the truth whatever works for them. They will make reality what they need it to be.

Our human inclination is to defend our own – to defend ourselves. To defend our friends who are hurt. To lash out. To prove wrong. To correct error. To pick apart an argument and show just how embarrassingly false it is. 

For as good as the people in this life are, there will always be those who speak louder, who lie to lie, who need to have their side told – no matter how false it is. They will do everything they can to destroy the good around them. To spread their anger. To harm those who need guidance. They take advantage. They remember things as they weren’t.  

Days like today may be meant to challenge my resolve. To challenge me to love in spite of. To give in spite of. To do good in spite of. 

Because there is no tally between you and those you do good by. There is no keeping score or boasting of or checking off. You do good because you are called to be kind, to give what you are able, to do unto others as you would want done unto you.  

Ignorance hurts. Lies cut deep. But to give up who I am, to give up how I to my core believe I am called to live, due to ignorance! What a tragedy that would be. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I sat down to write about the hellish move C and I have not completed yet. I sat down to talk about how the movers didn't show up to pack the first time, about how they packed on Christmas Eve instead, about how the day they were supposed to start we were notified by our next duty station that we would not be moving directly into our new house and that our items would have to be placed in storage. I was going to talk about how that meant I would be moving into a house, again, alone.

I sat down to write about how everything went wrong the day we finally left Fort Carson, how long it took us to get to the bajillion different places we needed to get to. How we had to pull over on the side of the interstate at night because the trailer carrying the jeep started to disconnect, or how we ended up dropping the trailer off half way to our destination because it was more of a hell than a help. 

I sat down to write about getting sick in a way that I can't remember getting sick before just two days before C had to leave for DC. I was going to write about how I couldn't get out of bed and I had two kiddos in a not-so-awesome Army hotel with a husband who left on a plane for two months away. I was going to write about having to take Eli to the ER because he too got the flu and how hard it was to drive there and how it took nearly 5 hours when it was all said and done.

I was going to write about all of it. In detail. And I didn't even include it all up there.
We still don't have a house.

When I sat down to write one word kept going again and again through my head and it just won't go away.


There were a few days that I was at my lowest - that were really, really hard. I was alone in a place with no support system, no ability to go anywhere, sick beyond sick, unable to move, with two kiddos.  And it was hard. 

When C left for the airport, there wasn't anger or frustration that he had to go. I didn't ask him to find a way to stay back because this is just the way it goes sometimes. This is just the way it is. There will always be times - and sometimes the worst times - that they must go when we really need them to stay. 

C went to work hours after Logan was born. He was at work for much of the time that I was in labor. He had to leave while Eli was in the NICU to head back to Fort Benning. He has left me with Logan in Children's Hospital because the Army doesn't wait. I am so very grateful for the ability to accept that it isn't up to me. I am so very grateful that I know that him leaving in no way - in no way - means that he loves me any less, that he loves these kiddos any less. I am thankful that we have a partnership and understanding of what this life takes, of what it demands, and that we know what that means to our marriage.

I am grateful that him leaving doesn't make me question what his intentions are. I am thankful that I learned early on that acceptance doesn't make you weak. That not fighting that which you cannot change saves strength. 

I am grateful that sharing this journey has provided better understanding. I am grateful that for the dozens of civilian friends and acquaintances who have talked to me in the last week, not-a-one has raised a question about C still needing to leave. Not-a-one has questioned his dedication this family. Not one has asked, "Are you okay with that?" or "He couldn't stay?!" Each one has been understanding and empathetic and careful in their wording. I noticed the change.

I am grateful that so many have taken the time to listen and learn and understand

The hardest times show us our strength. They teach us how much we can do with faith and grace. The ability to not be angry, to not be resentful, to accept what we cannot change, is to be sought after and worked towards and held dear. 

I know my C loves me. I know he loves his children. I know that this job will take him when it is the least convenient for him go. I can't change it. I won't fight it. There is so much more worth fighting for.

Whatever the battle, whatever the struggle, you can make it through. You can survive this. You can thrive. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

I am currently spread out  (and really I am uncomfortable balled up) on a pull-out-bed in my Aunt's basement with a sleeping two year old resting on my chest in such a way that I have to raise my left arm to type. I honestly don't know how he is sleeping through the "click-click-click" of my keyboard. 

But then again, he and C are alternating snoring and Eli is holding his own in that department. Logan is awake on the air mattress beside me and is commenting on their noise while I type. C doesn't usually snore so I know he really is exhausted. He didn't make it 'til midnight tonight. 

If I told you the last two weeks ... well nearly three ... have been a blur it would be an understatement. I haven't been able to breathe. To process. To think. I have just been able to "Go!"

And right now, with one year ending and another one beginning ... man, can I feel the weight. 

On a Wednesday not too long ago, we found out that lil man would be evaluated for Autism. We set the first of multiple evals that day. Without question, one of my top ten most stressful days as an adult and as a momma. Without question. I am still trying to process.

Nearly exactly 24 hours after that smack-to-the-face, the call came through from C informing me that we had a total of three weeks to get to Leavenworth from Carson. Exactly three weeks. It was supposed to be Spring.

The moment I hung up the phone with him, I went straight into "go mode". I called the housing on post. I informed my "boss". I started closing out the very projects I had just started at ACS. I went to maintenance and put in every work order I could think of. I picked up touch up paint. I pulled out my FRG master book. I scheduled a roster scrub with our FRL. I bought a new PCS binder.  I printed documents. I scheduled movers. I argued when they didn't show up. I changed schedules. I remembered to breathe when our house at Leavenworth fell through - the same day our movers didn't show up. I separated "must keep" and "do not pack" from everything else. I called up people to pick up the tons of paint and refinishing supplies in our home. I scheduled Eli's first eval and then canceled Eli's first eval. I spoke to his doctor about how this would change timelines and referrals. I filled out Logan's withdrawal paperwork from school. We made a rather large drop off to the local ARC. I shipped Christmas gifts. I purchased thank-you/farewell gifts. I wrote thank you cards. I wrote "see you soon" notes. I prioritized. I made cuts. I re-did. I bought primer. And more primer. And more primer. I painted. I edged. I painted some more. I cleaned. I patched. I learned to drop the things that I just couldn't handle. I gave away wine and liquor.  I completed the ACS training calendar from January 2013 through August. I had to talk out loud to myself to step away from the computer when I knew I couldn't get the rest done. I handed off the info and masters to the friend filling the slot. I let go of the FRG Leader course revamp plan. I turned in my access card. I packed. I organized documents. I made mental notes (and physical notes) of what I wouldn't be able to get to. 

I thought I had more time.

More time to let things go. More time to let people go. To say goodbye. To hand things off. To ease into it. Time to move on, to move forward, to thank those who mean the most. I just thought I had so much more time.

And what hurts the most is it felt like I was always saying goodbyes and "see-you-soons". From the day we found out, from that very day, we were saying goodbye. Every time with a friend, every event, every dinner,  every moment was part of an end. It was part of a very big transition and I had so much to do. All I wanted to do was spend time with the people that have been so good to C and I - to watch a game or hang out or be together. To be with those who have been part of our family. Who have become so much a part of who we are. There just wasn't time.

So many people came to the Change-of-Command. So many friends and families. When I walked in, I didn't even notice. There were so many things I was doing at once, so many items I had to give out because this was our last time with so many of these wonderful people. I was running so late, so many things had gone wrong that morning. There were so many parts of my to-do list that had to happen right then. It wasn't until I overheard a comment by a leader and his spouse about how many people were there that I looked up and actually looked

I am so very humbled and grateful and without the right words. Scanning that room brought me to tears. Thank you. Thank you for being present.

Every single moment spent with that unit made me grateful for the troopers who defend this nation. Made me grateful for the families who stand by them, beside them. Every new spouse thrown into the most challenging training schedule C and I have ever lived through, who became part of the positive rather than part of the negative, every one makes me so very proud to know them, to have had the honor to get to see their start, to see them thrive. They have my absolute respect, my most inward hope.

I don't do well with goodbyes. I don't do well with letting go. There are so many people that I want to take with me. That I want to have randomly walk in my door like any other day. I love how comfortable it was there. How many people knew us well enough to just walk right in. Who knew my Starbucks orders and moods and would stop to bring one by. 

I love how many babies I was able to hold and love on and watch grow. I love the coffee-talks I got to have with so many of our families. I love seeing how different people can be and how incredibly blessed we are in this walk to see how differences can complete the whole. 

I am grateful that I was given people that I could love so deeply and care for so much that my heart would break to leave them. I am grateful that each one was put in my life to teach me and mold me and guide me. I am grateful for the goodness that was given to us there, for the absolute joy and humor and kindness that poured out from our home. I am grateful that we were given friends that it hurts so much to leave because those friendships - the ones that break your heart when you must separate - those are never broken. The friends that you cannot even look at when you say "see you later" or "see you soon", those never leave you. 

I am so blessed by and privileged to have such incredible relationships along this journey. Blessed beyond belief. Blessed beyond deserving.

The harder it hurts the more you know a place, know the people, will stay with you. The more they have become who you are. 

We never have enough time with those you care about. Never enough time. Treasure your friendships, your mentors, your family. Treasure the time you are given. Time is beyond precious.

Leaving will never become easier. Moving forward will always hold sorrow. It has been my blessing to learn that every place we leave, every friend we leave, was once the "new place" and the "new person" we were worried to get to know. How blessed we are for so many new beginnings. How blessed we are to carry so many friends with us. How blessed we are to know there is a world of joy waiting behind that very next "hello".  


Happy New Year from our family to yours.

Find the Joy.